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India must make SL address human rights issues: Amnesty International

Amnesty International has made a strong statement in favour of India addressing serious concerns with the Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs, G.L Pieris, about Sri Lanka's ongoing crackdown on dissent, repression and thousands of cases of disappearances and extrajudicial killings during and after the 2009 war.

India must stand firm in its demand for justice for the war-affected as it had signalled at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year when it made a strong call for an “independent and credible investigation” that would be “to the satisfaction of the international community”, said a statement by the human rights organisation.

Representational photo of LTTE. AFP

Representational photo of LTTE. AFP

"Sri Lankan authorities have continued to dither on past promises at the Human Rights Council or pay heed to the serious concerns raised by the international community. With CHOGM around the corner, the world's eyes remain on Sri Lanka to address its human rights record," said the statement.  

“India must shine the spotlight on Sri Lanka's human rights climate and use G.L Peiris’s visit as an opportunity to question Sri Lanka's actions in addressing the grave violations that have taken place and continue to, post-conflict,” said Amnesty International India’s Programmes Director, Shashikumar Velath.

On 15 August, the Sri Lankan government published the mandate of a new commission, which would look into enforced disappearances and abductions during decades of armed conflict. The commission, the tenth of its kind, would inquire into and report on incidents of people disappearing from their “places of residence” and remaining missing between 10 June, 1990 and May 19, 2009 when the armed conflict ended. 

Amnesty International has questioned the efficacy of these ad hoc bodies, which lack independence and effective witness protection, and make recommendations that are rarely implemented. 

"Many such incidents committed by the Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE were reported to Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, (two of the members of this new Commission also served on the LLRC)," said the organisation.

"These complaints must be effectively addressed, by determining the fate and whereabouts of the missing and punishing parties responsible," it added. "The wording of the mandate raises doubts whether the commission is empowered to examine enforced disappearances of individuals from displacement camps, security checkpoints, guesthouses, roadways or importantly, upon surrender to the authorities."

Amnesty International, the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have made repeated calls on the UN for independent international investigation into serious violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka.